What is an oophorectomy?

An oophorectomy is an operation to remove one of or both your ovaries (see figure 1). Needing to remove an ovarian cyst is the most common reason for having an oophorectomy.

What are the benefits of surgery?

A cyst can cause symptoms such as pain, bloating, pressure on your bowel or bladder, and sometimes tiredness. An oophorectomy should improve your symptoms.

Some women have a family history of ovarian cancer so removing their ovaries will remove the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

An oopherectomy may also be performed to treat problems such as a twisted ovary and endometriosis.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

Pain is usually controlled with painkillers or by using hormone treatment such as the oral contraceptive pill.

If you have not yet gone through menopause, small cysts can usually be safely left alone.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is usually performed under a general anaesthetic and usually takes about 30 minutes.

Your gynaecologist will make several small cuts on your abdomen. They will insert surgical instruments, along with a telescope, inside your abdomen and perform the operation.

Your gynaecologist will separate your ovary and remove it. They may need to place instruments through your vagina to help them remove your ovary.

What complications can happen?

1 General complications

  • Pain
  • Feeling or being sick
  • Bleeding
  • Infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • Unsightly scarring
  • Blood clots

2 Specific complications of this operation

  • Damage to structures such as your bowel, bladder or blood vessels
  • Developing a hernia near one of the cuts
  • Surgical emphysema
  • Ovarian remnant syndrome
  • Damage to a ureter

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home the same day.

Rest for one to two days and take painkillers if you need them.

Regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities as soon as possible. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

Most women make a good recovery and return to normal activities.

Summary

An oophorectomy is an operation to remove one of or both your ovaries. An ovarian cyst is the most common reason for having an oophorectomy. It is also performed to treat problems such as a twisted ovary and to remove the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Acknowledgements

Author: Dr Clare Myers MBBS FRANZCOG and Mr Jeremy Hawe MBChB MRCOG

Illustrations: Medical Illustration Copyright © Nucleus Medical Art. All rights reserved. www.nucleusinc.com

 

This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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